Safety Foul-Up Exposes CDC Staff To Anthrax

Michael Smith | MedPage Today | June 20, 2014

A breakdown in safety procedures has exposed 84 CDC staffers in Atlanta to live anthrax, the agency said.  "Based on most of the potential exposure scenarios, the risk of infection is very low," the agency said in a statement. Nonetheless, the CDC is taking "aggressive steps" to protect their health, including providing antibiotics for those involved.

There is no risk to others, outside experts told MedPage Today. "This is not a transmissible disease," said Gregory Poland, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.  Like tetanus, anthrax causes illness by producing toxins in the body, Poland said, but doesn't then spread from person to person.

Also, immediate prophylaxis, with either antibiotics or a vaccine, is enough to prevent disease, commented Theresa Koehler, PhD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.  "This is a very treatable disease," she said. "If exposure is known ... or it's caught very early, it responds very readily to a variety of antibiotics."...